NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman struck a very pessimistic tone about replacing Alex Rodriguez after hearing the price tags for other third basemen on the open market, including Kevin Youkilis.
"Beggars can't be choosers," Cashman said Tuesday night from baseball's winter meetings.
Cashman did not classify his level of interest in Youkilis but confirmed he met with the veteran infielder's agent.
Youkilis made $12.25 million this past season and figures to be out of the Yankees' price range if he is looking for money even close to that.
The Yankees announced Monday that Rodriguez will undergo hip surgery, a procedure expected to sideline the three-time MVP through at least late June.
Jeff Keppinger is high on the Yankees' list as a right-handed third baseman. The Yankees also are interested in bringing back veteran Eric Chavez, who appeared in 113 games this past season -- his most since 2006.
Keppinger had a .923 OPS against left-handers, while Chavez posted a .908 OPS against right-handers.
"(Chavez) has put himself in a very strong position, I think, in a marketplace that is thin at that position," Cashman said. "That will run interference in our interest level. That doesn't mean we can't make something happen there."
Keppinger and Chavez both had excellent years in 2012, which will make Cashman, who is trying to limit his payroll to $189 million by 2014, extend his budget to sign them. He optimally would like to sign Rodriguez's replacements to one-year deals.
Cashman also is searching for an outfielder to replace Nick Swisher, whom the Yankees are not pursuing.
"You need to focus on the outfield and you need to focus on the left side of the infield," Cashman told reporters. "That's where your priority should be right now because that is where mine is."
Cashman essentially eliminated the idea that he would pursue A.J. Pierzynski, even as he acknowledged speaking with the veteran catcher's agent.
Cashman said he continues to be prepared to have a competition between Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli for the starting job. Prospect Austin Romine would have an outside chance of winning the position.
"I doubt I can upgrade on what I have catching-wise because the defense is an important aspect for us," Cashman said. "The bats are a secondary aspect."